Son of Santana working hard on definition of success
When: 8 p.m. Sunday, March 10
Where: The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.
Tickets: $12; 227-7625, blacksheeprocks.com
The definition of success as a musician is simple for Salvador Santana.
You may go to the best music schools and accrue a wealth of knowledge, but at the end of the day, if you perform and can’t get the crowd up dancing, you better go back to the drawing board. Something isn’t working.
If Salvador’s last name sounds familiar, that’s because it is. He’s the 29-year-old son of Grammy award-winning guitarist Carlos Santana, a rock and Latin music icon. Though he also plays a little guitar, Salvador’s attention focused early on the piano and keyboards and singing.
His dad wasted no time, perching him in front of the drums around age 2 or 3, Santana says.
“He thought it was important to have a basic fundamental understanding of tempo and rhythm.”
At about age five, he gravitated toward the piano.
“It’s more of a progressive instrument than people in classical music present to you. They say you have to treat it like a bunch of newborn baby chicks, but no, it’s a percussion instrument. You can go to town on it.”
And that he does. Santana released his first album, “SSB (Salvador Santana Band),” in 2008. It covered a lot of ground, including traditional Latin music, rock, hip-hop and R&B. An editorial review on Amazon.com found it eclectic and not particularly memorable.
“Keyboard City” came out in 2010. Critics were much more generous with the praise. Thom Jurek from the website Allmusic.com wrote:
“‘Keyboard City’ is a vast improvement over its predecessor; it’s still wildly adventurous, butSantana is grounded in his approach to experimentation and more focused on groove consciousness even as musical and sonic ideas assert themselves freely in the mix.”
On the album, his piano playing is sweetly melancholy on “Mi Tesoro,” and all electronic keyboards on “Under the Sun.” His stacatto lyrics flow over the music.
“I’m from the generation of hip-hop and rap, but I’m also discovering spoken word and poetry,” he says. “I want to be a poet who recites in rhythm, but not really a rapper. That can come off as a controversial label. I try to incorporate positivity and passion.”
Every day is one more chance for Santana to create a name for himself, and to take one more step out of his father’s limelight. He’s not exactly sure how to do that, he says, but knows continuing to create music he loves is the first step.
“I’m a firm believer in destiny, and that things happen for a reason,” he says. “Just like my dad when he started out in the late ’60s and ’70s, he combined multiple genres of music that resonated with him. We both don’t just play one style. We play world music that inspires people. We’re edutainers. We educate and at the same time, entertain. People walk away inspired like they learned something.”
Whatever groove he finds, he’ll never settle.
“I hear my growth in my own music,” Santana says. “A lot of bands find success honing in on one sound, but after awhile, it’s like is that all you’re going to do? For me, I’ll never stop growing in how I present myself musically.”
Jennifer Mulson may be reached at 636-0270.